Image 01 Image 02 Image 03

Criminal Law Tag

On Saturday, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman escaped from Mexico's maximum security Altiplano Prison. As head of the infamous Sinaloa drug cartel, it wasn't Guzman's first run in with the law---and it wasn't even his first prison break from a maximum security facility. In new surveillance footage released by the Mexican government, you can see the moment Guzman disappears from his cell and into the mile-long tunnel that eventually led him to freedom. In the video below, you'll see Guzman change his shoes, walk over to the shower area of his cell (conveniently equipped with a half-wall for privacy---great idea,) bend down, and disappear through a gaping hole beneath his shower grate. (Authorities discovered the escape hatch after they realized Guzman was gone.) Watch, via via Fox News:
The dividing wall blocked the interior camera's view of the hole into which Guzman appeared to disappear at 8:52 p.m. local time this past Saturday. Reuters reported it was one of two blind spots for the security cameras in Guzman's cell. National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido that the blind spots were intentional and designed to permit Guzman some privacy while washing.

Convicted killers Richard Matt and David Sweat are still on the run after escaping a maximum security prison in upstate New York late last week, but investigators have since revealed that they suspect a prison employee aided in the convicts' flight. Joyce Mitchell, 51, was arrested yesterday and charged with Promoting Prison Contraband in the 1st Degree and Criminal Facilitation in the 4th Degree. If convicted, she could face up to eight years in prison. Via Fox News:
Earlier, [District Attorney Andrew] Wylie said Mitchell, a supervisor in the prison's tailoring shop, brought "contraband" into the prison but he declined to elaborate on what, specifically, she gave the men. The Albany Times-Union reported late Thursday that Mitchell told New York State Police she gave Matt, 48, and Sweat, 34, access to a cell phone and smuggled tools into the prison.

It appears that black activists in Detroit are so impressed with how Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby is doing in Baltimore that they've adopted the same strategy in Cleveland, based on reports by Exactly a week ago we provided an update on the case of Tamir Rice, a black 14-year-old who was shot and killed by Cleveland police officers responding to a man-with-a-gun call:  VIDEO: Shooting of Tamir Rice by Police Goes to Grand Jury." Residents had called 911 because Tamir was walking around a public park with an apparent gun and pointing it at people.  When police responded to the scene, Rice immediately reached for the "gun" in his waistband and was killed by police gun fire. All that happened back in November 2014, and just last week the police finally wrapped up their investigation. The conclusion?  The evidence did not warrant charges against the one officer who actually fired shots, Officer Timothy Loehmann.  Further, if there was not sufficient evidence to charge the Loehman there would certainly not be sufficient evidence to charge to second officer, Frank Garmback, who had merely driven the patrol car. This certainly seems consistent with the actual video evidence available (embedded below the fold), as covered at length in our previous post on the subject but re-embedded here for your convenience:
Indeed, the surveillance video (below the fold, and annotated by the author) clearly shows Rice openly handling an apparent pistol (seemingly spinning it on his finger cowboy-style at the 1:20 mark), placing and removing it from his waistband (e.g., at 2:00 mark), and even apparently pointing the gun-like object at passersby. There are at least 10 occasions captured by the grainy footage of the surveillance video in which Rice is openly displaying the apparent gun in some fashion.  To an actual observer at the scene, the handling of the gun would have been far more apparent. When police pulled up to his location, they say Rice immediately reached for the apparent gun in his waistband (highlighted in the photo below, and seen at the 7:27 mark in the video), and they engaged him with defensive fire.

If you hadn't already heard the internet roar, there is outrage brewing at the use-of-force by police in McKinney, Texas. The biggest driver of outrage appears to be a ~13 minute cell phone video. Here's that video in its entirety, but I call out specific relevant portions below if you don't want to sit through the whole thing: I watched the video expectantly for the claimed police misconduct. One would think from Twitter comments regarding McKinney that the police dropped uninvited onto a placid pool party of little children to wreak havoc on the festivities. Is that what really happened?  Is that even vaguely credible? Nah. So what DID happen?

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has signed on to a groundbreaking criminal justice reform movement aimed at increasing transparency, lowering recidivism rates, and making sure that criminal laws on the books actually promote a safer society---and not bigger government. The Texas Public Policy Foundation's "Right on Crime" initiative has been making moves to combine small government, conservative principles with efforts to fix an overcrowded, underfunded, and mismanaged corrections system. Over the years they have secured the endorsements of high profile conservatives committed to bringing problems with the criminal justice system out of obscurity and into the spotlight. From TPPF:
Governor Perry joins 80 prominent conservative leaders who have endorsed the principles of conservative criminal justice reform, including former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, current Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese, and many others. “Both Republicans and Democrats are talking about criminal justice, but very few elected officials have made the kind of impact on criminal justice issues that Rick Perry has,” said Brooke Rollins, President at CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “As Governor, he was responsible for the sweeping reforms that, in addition to lowering crime rates and saving taxpayers money, made ‘the Texas model’ on criminal justice—as well as the Right on Crime campaign—possible. That model is the great example we’ve been able to tout across the country. We look forward to his continued leadership on this issue.”
That "Texas Model" has served as a blueprint for corrections overhauls in places like Mississippi, South Dakota, and Georgia, and as proof to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that being tough on crime doesn't necessarily mean dumping money into a rapidly expanding prison system.

The Hillary Clinton email scandal is growing worse by the day. We now know that she not only used a private email account in her time at the State Department but she even hosted it on a private server in her New York residence. In classic Clintonian doublespeak, Hillary tweeted just before midnight last night that she really, truly, wanted everyone to see her emails, so she told the State Department to release them. But the issue is not what she turned over to State, but what she didn't. Hillary's team selected what was turned over to the State Department, so her tweet is a complete distraction that doesn't address the problem: Hillary Tweet See Emails Other issues involve why she set up a home-based email server for official business, which gave her complete control over access in violation of public records laws.

Should teaching the law of sexual assault and rape be banned from law school classrooms because it could be a "triggering" event for some students? Apparently, there is a movement to do just such a thing. Earlier this month, Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk wrote a wonderful article at the New Yorker discussing the risks of sheltering law students from the study of laws governing rape and sexual assault cases. In the article, she takes academia to task over its oft-cowardly approach to professor--student classroom relationships, and points out that current "culture signals" demanding less discussion of potentially "triggering" topics are actually harmful for the future of prosecuting sexual assault. In part:
Now more than ever, it is critical that law students develop the ability to engage productively and analytically in conversations about sexual assault. Instead, though, many students and teachers appear to be absorbing a cultural signal that real and challenging discussion of sexual misconduct is too risky to undertake—and that the risk is of a traumatic injury analogous to sexual assault itself. This is, to say the least, a perverse and unintended side effect of the intense public attention given to sexual violence in recent years. If the topic of sexual assault were to leave the law-school classroom, it would be a tremendous loss—above all to victims of sexual assault.
Because we can't have nice things in academia anymore, we have, of course, a response. Margaret Drew is a law professor at the University of Massachusetts, and she thinks that Jeannie Suk's article "misses the point":

Here's a feel good story to wrap up the week. Usually people robbed at gun point aren't too keen to get to know the guy that shoved a gun in their face, much less offer what could be life altering help. These homeowners however see the entire situation differently. KHOU Houston reports (emphasis added):
BUNKER HILL VILLAGE, Texas – Police have released composite sketches of the suspects wanted for terrorizing a Bunker Hill family during a home invasion last month. They pretended to be delivering packages to the home in the 11800 block of Redcoat Lane so a housekeeper opened the door. That's when two gunmen, wearing black ski masks and gloves, forced their way inside the home. "She thought they were delivery people," said the homeowner who didn't want to give her name. "When she opened the door, they pulled a gun on her and they locked her in the bathroom. They spoke to her in Spanish." The homeowner arrived in the middle of the robbery and a third suspect was waiting outside in a white SUV. "When my husband showed up, they pulled a gun on him and told him he had to open the safe," said the wife.... A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of these suspects. The victims are also making an unusual offer if the suspects turn themselves in.